Joseph Aviram, long-time Director and President of the Israel Exploration Society (IES), passed away in Jerusalem on July 27. He was 107 years old.
Born in Poland in 1915, Aviram immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1936. In 1940, he became Secretary of the IES (then the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society), an organization dedicated to supporting archaeological work in the land of Israel. He was appointed IES Director in 1983 and then served as the organization’s President from 2009 until his death.
Both as IES Director and as co-founder of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, Aviram initiated numerous archaeological projects throughout Israel, including excavations at the sites of Hazor and Masada. His efforts earned the IES the prestigious Israel Prize in 1989.
Aviram was also a cherished friend and colleague of BAR’s late founder and editor, Hershel Shanks. During Hershel’s annual trips to Israel, his first meeting was always with Aviram to hear about the latest archaeological discoveries and debates. Together, the two organized international congresses on biblical archaeology, published academic volumes, and produced popular reports on major excavations.
Aviram was critical to biblical archaeology becoming the discipline it is today. His support for BAR never wavered, and he was always one of the society’s closest and most trusted friends.
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